CenterPoint CEO stumps for Port of Virginia bid

Paul Fishers says the industrial real estate developer is solely focused on Virginia and has no plans to make other port investments on the US’ East Coast. Their bid, estimated to bring at least $9bn in economic benefits to Virginia, touched off a 120 day period during which the port will entertain competing proposals.

Industrial real estate developer CenterPoint Properties plans no other East Coast port investment and remains solely focused on making its partnership with the Port of Virginia come to fruition.

Paul Fisher

Those are some of the insights from a recent opinion piece trumpeting the bid that Paul Fisher, the firm’s president, wrote for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a Virginia paper.

In March CenterPoint made an unsolicited bid to enter into a 60-year lease for the Virginia Port Authority’s port assets. The first-of-its kind proposal would result in at least $8.9 billion in economic benefits to the state, CenterPoint argued in its bid.

Fisher explains in his op-ed that the bid originated in CenterPoint’s $350 million development of an intermodal logistics center in Suffolk, Virginia, which got cleared by local politicians in January and may enter construction as early as May.

“This project responded to unmet demand for distribution facilities supporting the port and it opened our eyes. We realized that direct partnership with the port would make sense for our business, the commonwealth, and the maritime community”, Fisher writes.

He believes the partnership could also make the port a more attractive destination to shippers thanks to CenterPoint’s marketing muscle.

“We can bring shippers to Hampton Roads [one of the port’s container terminals] by marketing its newly upgraded, efficient, and green inland rail connectivity,” Fisher writes. 

Fisher also discloses that CenterPoint has taken a view as to how the state should utilise the funds it would receive from the partnership. These include $4 billion in state subsidies over the life of the lease that CenterPoint would not utilise.

“The commonwealth would determine how our funds would be spent. However, we have encouraged the funding of important regional transportation infrastructure, including the highways that serve the port facilities . . . and the pre-development of Craney Island,” Fisher writes, making reference to a fourth container terminal facility that the port is looking to develop.

CenterPoint’s bid touched off a 120 day period effective 27 March during which the port will entertain competing proposals.

A full-length analysis and background on CenterPoint’s bid appears in the May cover issue of Infrastructure Investor magazine.